The secret to a good dahl is the tarka, What is a tarka you might say? The tarka is the lovely oil tempered with spices that goes into your soup. You also need something a bit tangy, like amchur powder (mango powder) or tamarind or even a tomato powder. There are too many variations here to mention so I will work with the one I made last night. I admit, I did not measure... I 'eyeballed' - this should be pretty close. **** Do not substitute a curry powder for any of the spices below.
Red Lentil Dahl
- Rinse in cold water 1.5 cups red lentils. Rinse several times. Add 4 cups of cold fresh water to the lentils and put on to stove. Add 1.5 tsp. salt and add 3/4 tsp. turmeric. Set pot on high heat, once boiling, turn down to a simmer.
- Let simmer for 25 minutes. Add another cup of water to simmering lentils and return to a simmer.
- Make tarka. Melt over medium heat, 2 TBS Ghee and 1 TBS Coconut oil in sautee pan. Add 1 TBS black mustard seeds to the oil. As soon as seeds start to sputter. Add in your heaping TBS of cumin seeds, 1 TBS ground coriander, and 10 curry leaves. Sautee quickly as the spices can burn very quickly in the hot oil. Add 1 chopped tomato to oil as well as well as 2 crushed garlic cloves. Let tomatoes soften and stir constantly so the spices do not burn.
- Add tarka to the simmering lentils. IT makes a wonderful sizzling noise as the hot tarka enters the simmering lentils. Stir lentils, taste for salt and add 1 TBS tomato powder/amchur/tamarind to tarten up the dahl. Add fresh ground black pepper. Let dahl simmer on low with the spices for 5 minutes and then turn off head and let sit for at least 15 minutes with the cover on. This soups flavor really takes off after about 15 minutes.
- You may add any dried or fresh hot pepper to the tarka. This can add some wonderful depth to the soup itself.
- Chop 1 large handful of cilantro. Serve on top of soup along with raita. Recipe for raita follows.
- 2 Cups plain organic yogurt. Seven Stars is our favorite or Nancy's.
- 1/3 cup of FINELY sliced yellow or white onion, I mean FINELY.
- 1 TBS ground cumin and coriander. Start with less and then add more to taste.
- 1 tsp. good salt. We use pink salt. Add more if needed
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- You can add sliced cucumber as well although I tend to enjoy just this plain one for adding into dahls.
- Stir all ingredients and let sit so the yogurt will mellow out the onions. Let sit at least 15 minutes or can be made ahead of time.